Protesters have gathered outside several Clicks pharmacy chain stores in South Africa in reaction to a shampoo advertisement slammed by the critics as “racist”.
The advertisement, commissioned by the TRESemme hair company and carried on the Clicks pharmacies’ website, compared two photos of Black women’s hair with two photos of white women’s hair, labelling the natural hair “dry and damaged” and “frizzy and dull”, while the white women’s hair was “fine and flat” and “normal”.
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party led by Julius Malema on Monday called for demonstrations outside the company’s outlets over the racial connotation in the advert.
“We will not permit the unrepentant and perverse racism of Clicks to go on in South Africa. #clicksmustfall,” the EFF posted on Twitter.
Videos on the EFF’s social media pages and in local media showed small groups of protesters – clad in the party’s red berets – dancing and singing protest songs in several malls leaving at least one store with minor damages after it had been petrol-bombed.
Socialites also expressed their displeasure over the bitter taste of the advert with Black women posting photos of their hair with hashtags on social media like #BlackHairIsNormal and #RacismMustFall. The recently crowned Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi, tweeted
“Not only is this disrespectful to black lives, it is also evidence of an absence of representation and diversity within the organisation,”
“And we are talking about a South Africa with a population of about 80 percent black people… No ways.”
Clicks Pharmacy, one of the two largest retailers in the country with more than 500 stores, has however issued an apology before pulling down the images.
“We are strong advocates of natural hair and are deeply sorry we have offended our natural hair community,” it said in a statement on its Twitter account on Friday.
“We have made a mistake and sincerely apologise for letting you down.”
Unilever SA, TRESemme’s parent company, published an apology for the undertone on its website that read: “We are very sorry that images used in a TRESemme South Africa marketing campaign on the Clicks website promote racist stereotypes about hair.
“The campaign set out to celebrate the beauty of all hair types and the range of solutions that TRESemmé offers, but we got it wrong.”
Liberty Pazvakawambwa SADC News